HC Deb 10 July 1916 vol 84 cc41-3
31. Mr. W. THORNE

asked the Home Secretary if he is aware that, at an inquest held at Southwark Court on 29th June, 1916, upon the body of Henry Benjamin Morgan, aged 51 years, a waterside labourer, who died in Guy's Hospital from cutaneous anthrax contracted during his work at the New Hibernia (or Hayes) Wharf, Southwark, while handling infected Persian or China wool in bales, the jury unanimously passed a rider to the effect that the provisions of the Factory and Workshps Act should be extended or enlarged so as to apply to the wharves and warehouses and other places where foreign or suspect wool, hides, skins, horse and goat hair, pigs' bristles, and other material liable to be infected with anthrax are handled and dealt with, and that the preventive regulations, including placards in picture form, issued by the Home Office, should be compulsorily exhibited and enforced for the information and well-being of workers in such wharves and warehouses; if he is aware that the medical experts, His Majesty's medical inspector, of the Home Office, Dr. Spilsbury, pathologist, medical officer of health, factory surgeon, and house surgeon at Guy's Hospital, in their evidence at the inquest on Morgan, expressed the opinion that it would be in the public interest, notwithstanding the War, if the recommendations made in the rider referred to were, without further delay, adopted by the authorities and made legal by Order or Statute; and if he intends to take any action in the matter?


The Home Office has received a letter from the coroner drawing attention to the proceedings at the inquest on this case. The danger of anthrax in connection with the handling of wool bales at wharves and warehouses has recently come into prominence, and the question of the steps to be taken to protect persons employed in such premises has been under the consideration of the Department. I propose asking the Departmental Committee which is now considering the question of anthrax in the wool industry to make an inquiry into this subject, and, pending the receipt of a report from them, I am arranging for a circular to be issued to the occupiers of such premises calling their attention to the danger and recommending the adoption of certain precautionary measures which will include the posting and exhibition of the picture placard to which the hon. Member refers. In a number of instances the placard in question has already been issued to the occupiers of wharves and warehouses.

32. Mr. THORNE

asked the Home Secretary if he is aware that at an inquest held in Southwark Court on the body of a butcher, named Tarrant, of Mitcham, who died from cutaneous anthrax in Guy's Hospital in December, the jury unanimously passed a rider to the effect that anthrax should be universally (not only in London, but at Croydon, Mitcham, and many other districts throughout the country, including Bradford and the West Riding of Yorkshire, the chief seat of the wool trade) placed on the list of dangerous infectious diseases compulsorily notifiable by medical men in attendance on such cases to the medical officer of health of the district in which the patient was under treatment; and, secondly, that all deaths from anthrax should be reported compulsorily to the coroner in whose district the body lies; and if he intends taking any action in the matter?


My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply. My attention has been called to the facts stated, and the question of issuing an Order making all cases of anthrax compulsorily notifiable is under consideration.